October 2, 2017 / 9:52 AM / in 9 months

Lithuanian track removal draws EU fine for blocking competition

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commissions said on Monday it had fined Lithuanian Railways 27.9 million euros ($32.8 million) for hindering competition by removing a section of track running to Latvia.

The operator removed the 19-kilometre(12 mile) stretch of track in 2008 after Polish oil company PKN Orlen considered redirecting its freight to Latvian ports from its refinery in Lithuania by using another rail operator and a short route to the border.

The track removal meant that Orlen had to use a much longer route to reach Latvia. The EU’s rail freight market was liberalized in 2007 and the Commission said Lithuanian Railways showed no justification for dismantling the track.

“It is unacceptable and unprecedented that a company dismantles a public rail infrastructure to protect itself from competition,” competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8517 euros)

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek

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